Matrilineal Society and the Minangkabau House of Western Sumatera, Indonesia

By Azizi Bahauddin, Aldrin Abdullah, Setiawan Hardono and Nor Zarifah Maliki.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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This paper studies the influence of the matrilineal society in relation to the traditional Minangkabau house of Western Sumatera, Indonesia. It can be clearly seen in the internal layout of the house and the appearance of the architecture, which features a multi-tiered curved roof structure with upswept gables to mimic the horn of a buffalo. The house is owned by the women in the family who live there and is passed down from mother to daughter. It reflects the matrilineal authority and the people’s understanding of designing architecture that is in harmony with nature. The house serves as a residence, a hall for family meetings, and for ceremonial activities. The objectives of this research are to analyse the matrilineal influence on the architecture, and to investigate the architecture on its sustainable and cultural issues. The methodology employed includes reviewing literature on the space planning of the house and cultural issues related to the house. This is supported by field research in villages in Western Sumatera. This is done simultaneously with interviews of the locals and visual data collection of the architecture. Ultimately, the house exhibits conformity of the Minangkabau house to the unique matrilineal culture.

Keywords: Matrilineal Society, Minangkabau House, Influence, Sustainable Architectural and Cultural Values

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.57-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.527MB).

Dr. Azizi Bahauddin

Associate Professor, Interior Design Programme, School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, Penang, Malaysia

Azizi was trained as an architect and interior designer before joining the School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang in 1999 as an interior design lecturer. Currently he is involved in research in design relating to cultural values.

Dr. Aldrin Abdullah

Associate Professor, School of Housing, Building and Planning, University of Science Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Penang, Malaysia

Aldrin has been a lecturer at the School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang since May 1999. His main interests are the social aspects of design (architecture and landscape), crime and housing.

Setiawan Hardono

PhD Candidate, School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, Penang, Malaysia

Setiawan was trained as an architect and now he is a PhD candidate at the School of Housing, Building and Planning researching into traditional Malay architecture.

Dr. Nor Zarifah Maliki

School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Minden, Penang, Malaysia

Zarifah is a lecturer in landscape architecture at the School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia and her main interest is in cultural landscape.